From Squirrel Girl to Giant Days: The Best Comics of 2016

Its been a strange year for comics. Not only did DC climb back on top via a superhero Rebirth, it did so while Marvel collapsed under the weight of its delayed, overwrought Civil War II storyline. Elsewhere, mainstream independents had a strong, if somewhat quiet, 12 months, and “art comics” publishers like Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics, and First Second produced some stellar work. With so many good books out there, making a Top 5 Comics of 2016 list isn’t an easy job which might be why there are actually eight different titles on our list. Dont tell anyone. Itll be our little secret, OK?

The Flintstones (DC Entertainment)

Proof that 2016 was filled with the unexpected: The year ended with a sharp social satire in the form of a Flintstones book from Mark Russell and Steve Pugh. The comic takes the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon and uses it to expose the ridiculousness of modern life with both a sharp wit and a lack of shame. Each issue features at least one joke you can’t believe made it into print, making this almost certainly the best thing on the stands you’re not reading.

Credit: DC Entertainment

Proof that 2016 was filled with the unexpected: The year ended with a sharp social satire in the form of a Flintstones book from Mark Russell and Steve Pugh. The comic takes the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon and uses it to expose the ridiculousness of modern life with both a sharp wit and a lack of shame. Each issue features at least one joke you can’t believe made it into print, making this almost certainly the best thing on the stands you’re not reading.

Giant Days (BOOM! Studios)

Along similar lines as Flintstones, the high concept of John Allison’s Giant Days sounds underwhelming: Is there that much humor to be mined from three dissimilar friends in college together? But the answer is a glorious “yes! Thanks to Allison’s willingness to get weirdand also get specificthe series plays out like a classic British sitcom that you wish could run forever. The fact that the whole thing is tied together with great art from Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin is just a bonus.

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Along similar lines as Flintstones, the high concept of John Allison’s Giant Days sounds underwhelming: Is there that much humor to be mined from three dissimilar friends in college together? But the answer is a glorious “yes! Thanks to Allison’s willingness to get weirdand also get specificthe series plays out like a classic British sitcom that you wish could run forever. The fact that the whole thing is tied together with great art from Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin is just a bonus.

Rolling Blackouts (Drawn & Quarterly)

Sarah Glidden’s investigation into the aftermath of America’s military action in the Middle Easton the region itself, but also on the American soldiers, as personified by one soldier in particularis everything good long form journalism should be: informative, moving, and beautifully human, with writing that asks the difficult questions without losing empathy for those it wants answers from.

Credit: Drawn & Quarterly

Sarah Glidden’s investigation into the aftermath of America’s military action in the Middle Easton the region itself, but also on the American soldiers, as personified by one soldier in particularis everything good long form journalism should be: informative, moving, and beautifully human, with writing that asks the difficult questions without losing empathy for those it wants answers from.

Tom King’s Untitled Trilogy

King has had an unbelievably good year, with three different series coming to devastating climaxes within months of each other. The Omega Men, The Vision, and The Sheriff of Babylon are three different booksspace opera, suburban superhero drama, and political thriller, respectivelythat share a thrillingly intelligent, tense outlook and love of devastating finales. Add in King’s collaborators on each seriesBarnaby Bagenda, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and Mitch Geradsand you easily have three of the best comics of the year, hands down.

Credit: Vertigo

King has had an unbelievably good year, with three different series coming to devastating climaxes within months of each other. The Omega Men, The Vision, and The Sheriff of Babylon are three different booksspace opera, suburban superhero drama, and political thriller, respectivelythat share a thrillingly intelligent, tense outlook and love of devastating finales. Add in King’s collaborators on each seriesBarnaby Bagenda, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and Mitch Geradsand you easily have three of the best comics of the year, hands down.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel Entertainment)

From the pessimism of King’s work to the most optimistic comic around, Squirrel Girl takes the superhero genre and decides to approach it with a heart and humor that is sadly rare these days. Ryan North’s writing embraces both silliness and wonderfully nerdy niche jokes (this is the series which taught readers and villain Count Nefaria how to count on your fingers, using the power of binary, after all), while Erica Henderson’s art brings the cast to life in a number of subtle, telling ways.

Credit: Marvel Entertainment

From the pessimism of King’s work to the most optimistic comic around, Squirrel Girl takes the superhero genre and decides to approach it with a heart and humor that is sadly rare these days. Ryan North’s writing embraces both silliness and wonderfully nerdy niche jokes (this is the series which taught readers and villain Count Nefaria how to count on your fingers, using the power of binary, after all), while Erica Henderson’s art brings the cast to life in a number of subtle, telling ways.

Honorable Mention: We Told You So: Comics As Art (Fantagraphics)

Relegated to Honorable Mention status purely because it’s not actually a comic book, Comics As Art is actually an oral history of the comic book publisher Fantagraphics, and it’s a genuine treasure, even for those who have never heard of Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, or the Hernandez Brothers (all of whom made their name with Fanta books). Filled with obscure pop culture tidbits, enjoyably unreliable narrators, and some amazing artwork, it’s like a hidden history of comic book culture of the last half-century or so.

Credit: Fantagraphics

Relegated to Honorable Mention status purely because it’s not actually a comic book, Comics As Art is actually an oral history of the comic book publisher Fantagraphics, and it’s a genuine treasure, even for those who have never heard of Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, or the Hernandez Brothers (all of whom made their name with Fanta books). Filled with obscure pop culture tidbits, enjoyably unreliable narrators, and some amazing artwork, it’s like a hidden history of comic book culture of the last half-century or so.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/12/best-comics-2016/